The 2010 Michener Award finalists talk about their award winning stories and the people who helped make them happen – Michener Awards Ceremony, June 14, 2011.
The Eastern Door provided sustained reporting of the decision of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake to send eviction letters to non-Natives living on the reserve. The newspaper put names and faces to the evictions and sparked a public discussion in this close-knit community into what The Eastern Door called a “human rights story”. The courageous involvement of the community paper has contributed to a change in direction of the execution of a decision of the Mohawk Council to evict non-Native residents living on the reserve.
She:kon sewakwekon. Your Excellencies. Fellow nominees and invited guests.
We at The Eastern Door are honoured by this nomination. We also congratulate our fellow nominees. Your work inspires journalists across Canada to do the right thing.
Chasing down the story for the right reasons can be an uphill battle and we learned that first-hand last year. During our investigative series, we had the tough task of exposing a controversial move by our local government.
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake decided to evict non-Natives, who were in relationships with Mohawks, from the community. The Council’s decision shattered lives while the majority remained silent.
It reminded us of a bigger problem: the lingering effects of the Indian Act, which has failed our people miserably and brainwashed many of us.
Hundreds of years ago our people adopted from every nation, including our non-Native brothers and sisters, and brought them into our communities. We fed them, gave them shelter and welcomed them in with open arms.
Our realities changed, however, when the power shifted. Genocidal acts committed against us, such as residential school, forced sterilization and the 1960s scoop, are attacks we will never forget.
We survived these injustices and many more, but they have left deep scars. This pain is what festers in our people and our communities. But we can’t totally blame the government for this one. Our people are the ones who sent out the eviction letters.
In February 2010, the Mohawk Council decided to perpetuate a shameful legacy; one we learned from a sordid history with colonization.
When they decided to evict people based on race, and thereby dictate whom we can live with, they undermined our most basic human emotion. Love.
We dug in and we turned the spotlight back on the Council, because people’s lives were at stake. In the end, once our coverage sparked national and international attention, and public outcry reverberated within our community and across the country, the Mohawk Council relented.
Our new coverage and editorials over the period of 10 months helped to achieve that goal and the results spoke loud and clear.
The little guy had won.
Michener Awards Ceremony
June 14, 2011.